12/27/2013 12:15 EST | Updated 02/26/2014 05:59 EST

Botched baby vaccinations prompt alert in N.S.

Patients of Nova Scotia physician William Vitale are being notified that some may need to be vaccinated again after the doctor mixed incompatible vaccines in one syringe and injected them in one shot.

Vitale has had his licence suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia for improperly administering vaccines.

The Capital District Health Authority says people who were vaccinated by Vitale from 1992 to 1994 and from 2003 to present and who were under age 24 months at the time may need to be re-immunized.

"While it is important to be re-vaccinated properly, this is not an emergency. We recommend that patients, if needed, have their first re-vaccination appointment by the end of February," said Dr. Robin Taylor, medical officer of health for the Capital District Health Authority, which covers the Halifax area and part of Hants County.

"Immunizations work to protect us against diseases such as measles, mumps, tetanus and whooping cough and are the best way to stay healthy for years to come."

It may take up to six months for some re-immunizations to be effective.

Patients or parents of patients vaccinated by Vitale during the affected periods should contact their family physician or call 811.

For those in the Halifax area without a family doctor, a vaccination clinic for former patients of Vitale will start Jan. 8. Appointments are required and can be arranged by calling (902) 481-5813.

Capital Health says patients should not go to emergency rooms or walk-in clinics, because they are not designed to perform routine immunizations.

"Doctors are well-informed on the right way to deliver vaccines, so this is a rare occurrence," said Dr. Frank Atherton, deputy chief public health officer for the provincial Health and Wellness Department.

"Most Nova Scotians are properly immunized. However, it is important that affected patients of this doctor take action to ensure that they are protected against these preventable diseases."